Cannabis: Health effects and safety
How can I use cannabis safely?
Remember that every form of cannabis use poses risks to your health. The only way to completely avoid these risks is by choosing not to use cannabis. If you decide to use cannabis, follow Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (PDF) to lower risks to your health.:
- Abstain from cannabis to avoid health risks.
- Delay taking up cannabis use until later in life.
- Identify and choose lower-risk cannabis products.
- Don’t use synthetic cannabinoids.
- Avoid smoking cannabis—choose safer ways of using.
- If you smoke cannabis, avoid harmful smoking practices like deep inhalation and breath-holding.
- Limit and reduce how often you use cannabis.
- Don’t use cannabis and drive or operate other machinery.
- Avoid cannabis use altogether if you are at risk for mental illness or are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
- Avoid combining the above risks.
Can cannabis affect my physical health?
Yes. Cannabis can affect your physical health. The physical effects of cannabis can include:
- irritated respiratory system if smoked, including shortness of breath, coughing, and bronchitis-like symptoms
- increased appetite
- increased heart rate
- decreased blood pressure
- decreased ability to maintain balance and stability
- poor memory
- difficulty thinking
- distorted perceptions (sights, sounds, time, touch)
- drowsiness or restlessness
- red eyes
- dry mouth and throat
Individual responses to the drug will vary. 
What are the known benefits of using cannabis?
There is some evidence of potential therapeutic uses for cannabis or its component chemicals (cannabinoids). Although cannabis can be used by some people for their health problems, decisions as to whether cannabis is appropriate to treat an individual’s symptoms are best made in consultation with a health care provider. Learn more about accessing cannabis for medical purposes (Health Canada). 
1 Eastern Ontario Health Unit, “Cannabis Summary,” 2018.
7 Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), “Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines,” 2017.
8 Health Canada, “Your cannabis questions answered,” 2018.
This item was last modified on October 15, 2018